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“…Maddeningly and simultaneously our finest strength and our most gentle weakness”

I snagged a copy of an Avett Brother’s album (along with a substantial pile of other cd’s) from Recycled books today. On the inside cover of the album is this brilliant piece of writing magic. Every once in a while I come across pieces of writing where I’m so overwhelmed and impressed by the whole thing that I feel a great deal of envy that I didn’t write it, that I wasn’t the one to bring something so beautiful into a tangible, shareable form to be a part of this messy world. This piece, which they’ve deemed the album’s mission statement, is one of those masterpieces. It’s worth your time, I think. It’s pretty perfect.

“The words “I” and “Love” and “You” are the watermark of humanity.Strung together, they convey our deepest sense of humility, of power,of truth. It is our most common sentiment, even as the feeling of it isso infinitely uncommon: each to proclaim these three words with his or her very own heart and mindset of reason (or lack thereof); a proclamation completely and perfectly new each time it is offered.Uttered daily and nightly by millions, the words are said in an unending array of circumstances : whispered to a newborn in a mothers arms; shared between best friends on the playground; in the form of sympathy – said by a girl to a boy, as the respect continues but the relationship does not. It is said too loudly by parents to embarrass children in the company of their friends, and by grown children – to their fading parents in hospital beds. The words are thought in the company of the photograph and said in the company of the gravestone. It is how we end our phone calls and our letters… the words at the bottom of the page that trump all those above it, a way to gracefully finish a message, however important or trivial, with the most meaningful gift of all : the communication of love. And yet the words themselves have been the victims of triviality, a ready replacement for lesser salutations among near strangers, burst forth casually as “love ya.” Truly? To what degree? Why, how much, and for how long? These are questions befitting of the stature of love, though not the everyday banter of vague acquaintance. The words have also been twisted by the dark nature of deceit : To say “I love you” with a dramatic measure of synthetic emotion; a snare set by those who prey upon fellow humanity, driven to whatever selfish end, to gain access to another’s body, or their money,or their opportunity. In this realm, the proclamation is disgraced by one seeking to gain rather than to give. In any case, and by whatever inspiration, these words are woven deeply in to the fibers of our existence. Our longing to hear them from the right place is maddeningly and simultaneously our finest strength and our most gentle weakness.The album “I and Love and You” is unashamedly defined by such a dynamic of duality. As living people, we are bound by this unavoidable parallel. We are powerful yet weak, capable yet temporary.Inevitably, an attempt to place honesty within an artistic avenue will follow suit. This is a piece which shows us as we are: products of lovesurrounded by struggle. The music herein is, in many ways, readable as both a milestone and an arrival. A chapter in the story of young men,it bridges the space between the uncertainty of youth and the reality of it’s release. The record is full with the quality of the questionand response. As far as questions go, there are plenty- normally residing within the tone and delivery of the lyrics themselves, which,ironically, are sung with so much confidence. Among songs and thoughts so driven and purposeful, the most basic relatable doubt comes through with a resounding clarity. Outside of the eternal theme of romanticlove, the album speaks thankfully upon a landscape of light-filled rooms, word-filled pages, time machines, forgiveness, singing birds,ocean waves, art ,change, confessions of shortcomings, and reasons to continue on. Hope and a cause for smiling follow naturally. In themidst of all this, there are allusions to the less-than-ideal conditions of life: the loss of memory, the inability to controltemper, insecurity, indecision, jaded indifference, and the general plague of former and current weakness. “I and Love and You” is an albumof obvious human creation, characterized by its best and its worst.Emotional imperfection is a reality for those who recorded the piece,just as it is for those who will hear it. The conclusion of the song from which the title is taken admits that the words “I love you” havebecome “hard to say”. And perhaps that difficulty is as common as its counterpart. Perhaps the inability to say these heaviest of words is asmuch a part of life as the lighthearted candor of those who say them without any difficulty at all. And so it ends with the phrase whisperedto and by those of us most defeated and most elated… I and love and you…”

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